Bonding with Your New Baby
There's going to be a natural bond with your new baby that's just going to happen. But like any other relationship in your life, nurturing and maintaining bonds is always important.
The beautiful thing about a newborn is that your efforts to bond are vital to the baby's growth and development. Each parent and caregiver should take the time and effort to connect with the baby in a unique way.
Before Baby is Born
- The bonding process for mom, her spouse or partner, and other caregivers starts before baby is born.
- Attending prenatal care appointments is an important first step in the process. Of course, mom will be there. So should others important in the baby's very early life. Dad, of course, but perhaps also other caregivers who will be present after baby is born.
- If being present at prenatal care appointments isn't practical or possible, there are pregnancy apps where moms can share details about baby's progress in the womb.
- Reading books to baby while still in the womb will help you bond with baby.
- Studies have shown that babies can start hearing mom's insides, such as her heartbeat, at 18 weeks. At about 27 weeks, babies can hear what's happening outside the womb.
After Baby is Born
- Don't worry if you don't feel an immediate connection with baby. There's a lot of activity in the delivery room that can distract you. Everyone, including you, bonds in a unique way. Some people need a quiet moment.
- Bonding isn't a fixed thing. You may be scared about being a parent, nervous about your baby's well-being, or just don't have a lot of experience with babies or kids.
- Bonding forms over time and requires consistent effort, with you being open to baby's needs as well as your own.
- Don't be surprised or get down on yourself if dad feels a faster bond with baby, for example. Dad shouldn't feel bad if he's slower to bond, either. It takes time, effort and understanding.
- If baby needs special care right after birth and is taken to the NICI, keep in mind that bonding is a process. The interruption won't impact your ultimate bond with baby.
- Some important first steps for bonding immediately after birth: have dad or your partner cut the umbilical cord, take time for skin-to-skin bonding, make eye contact with baby, talk to baby and soak in that baby is yours.